(CNN) – The new social media app right now looks so similar to the Twitter app that it’s hard to tell the two apart. The profiles, schedules, and colors are nearly identical. Even the creator is the same.
But beneath the surface, Bluesky, developed by Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey, is very different.
The app, which launched in closed beta on iOS in February and on Android this month, runs on a decentralized network that gives users more control over how the service operates, stores data and moderates content.
In recent days, it has gained traction among journalists, politicians, and celebrities, from Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to model Chrissy Teigen and ’90s idol Eve6.
This is what you should know:
What is BlueSky?
Bluesky calls itself “a new social network for microblogging”. With the app, users can post and follow short updates on a timeline, just like they do on Twitter, albeit with some differences. There are currently no hashtags, which is an essential feature on Twitter, and no direct messages.
Bluesky was formed independently of Twitter while Dorsey was CEO, but was funded by the company until it became an independent organization in February 2022. In a tweet pitching the idea in 2019, Dorsey said it also plans to “build an open community around this, including This includes companies, organizations, researchers, and civil society leaders,” but warned, “This will not happen overnight.”
In a tweet last year, Dorsey said, “The biggest problem and most regret is that [Twitter] It became a corporation.” He then explained that if a service is a protocol, “it cannot be owned by a state or a corporation.” “
If the idea of a decentralized social network sounds familiar to you, it’s likely because of Mastodon, another Twitter alternative that also gained attention late last year.
Why do people join it?
Like Mastodon, Bluesky attracts a number of Twitter users who are frustrated with the platform’s leadership under Elon Musk, its owner. In the six months since Musk took over Twitter, he’s made a number of controversial changes to its features and policies, including removing blue ticks from premium users.
Some of the same high-profile users now testing Bluesky have also been vocal critics of Musk’s moves on Twitter.
According to data.ai, the company formerly known as App Annie, Bluesky has been downloaded more than 375,000 times from Apple’s App Store and the queue is still flooded with registration requests. On the Google Play Store, Bluesky is described as having been downloaded more than 100,000 times. (For comparison, Twitter reported more than 200 million monetizable daily active users last year before Musk completed the acquisition.)
Bluesky did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unknown if Bluesky has staying power or if he will lose his strength like a mastodon. Still, the early shift toward bluesky is a positive, said Mark Bartholomew, a university professor at Buffalo Law School who writes about online privacy, because it gives social media users more choice about where they spend your time.
“The competition can actually help users find the product features they want, like better privacy protections, portability, and more moderation of meaningful content,” he said. “Social media platforms have features that users don’t like, but still feel obligated to embrace in order to be in an online space where everyone else is.”
All it took, he said, was for Musk to take action to “sabotage his own platform.”
Can I register for an account?
At the moment, access to Bluesky is invite only as it increases support for network deployment. Existing users get an invite code to share with someone every two weeks on the app. Not surprisingly, the feeling of exclusivity only added to the excitement of joining Bluesky.
As Eve 6 wrote on Twitter: “Bluesky invite codes are the new blue ‘brands'”.